ESSAYS ON THE TEACHINGS OF A
Alphonse and Rachel Goettmann
Theodore J. Nottingham
Translated from the original French:
Regards Inedits sur Graf Durckheim
LIFE AND WORK OF KARLFRIED GRAF DURCKHEIM
Jean and Gisele Marchal
THE BODY OF OUR CONVERSION
NOTION OF ESSENTIAL BEING
TRINITARIAN VISION OF REALITY
PATH OF INITIATION AND THE MYSTICAL LIFE
JOURNEY OF THE "NOBLE MAN": MEISTER ECKHART AND GRAF DURCKHEIM
AND THE BIBLE
AUTHORS OF BECOMING REAL
WEHR:writer, professor at Nuremberg, specialist in the history
of religions, he has published several well known biographies,
including those of C.G. Jung, Rudolf Steiner, and the primary
biography of Karlfried Graf Durckheim.
AND GISELE MARCHAL: medical doctors, psychotherapists, students
of Graf Durckheim.
REROLLE: Catholic priest, professor of philosophy, member of the
Forum-Vaugirard in Paris where he directs the studies of contemplative
traditions and the encounter of Eastern and Western cultures and
ERNY: professor at the University of Human Sciences at Strasbourg.
MASSA: Orthodox priest, director of the Ecumenical Center "Exercitium
Humanum" at Neumuhle.
DESJARDINS: Student of Hindu, Tibetan, Japanese and Sufi masters,
he has written numerous works and heads an ashram at Vers-Pont-du-Gard.
LOTZ: German Jesuit, student of Heidegger, professor of philosophy
and theology at the University of Munich and at the Gregorian
University in Rome, author of many books.
BRETON: Catholic priest, hermit at Carmel, student of Graf Durckheim.
Related to a Zen Buddhist monastery in Japan, he directs the Assise
Center at Saint-Gervais en-Vexin. JEAN-YVES LELOUP: Orthodox priest,
doctorate in psychology, philosophy and theology.
GOETTMANN: Orthodox priest, director of Bethanie, a Center of
Hesychast Meditation near Metz in France and the author of several
books on Durckheim.
Theodore J. Nottingham
have been many teachers of life-giving wisdom down through the
ages. Each has left his or her mark on humanity, touching the
lives of individuals in search of meaning. They have discovered
and shared an awareness of reality which is timeless and utterly
transforming. Like rare gems, they have each reflected aspects
of cosmic truth whose glow has changed forever our understanding
of ourselves and of the universe.
this blessed line of teachers has come forth in our time yet another
master. Karlfried Graf Durckheim, who died at the age of 92 in
December of 1988, is a beacon for humanity whose influence has
only begun to be felt. Here is a man who brought together the
vision of Meister Eckhart, C. G. Jung, Zen Buddhism, and the spirituality
of early Christianity. Out of his experience and understanding,
he has created a new language for the practical transformation
of human consciousness.
speaks to us of our two natures, the essential and the existential;
of daily life as an exercise for the breakthrough of eternal Being;
of the body as an expression of the invisible; of our becoming
transparent to the Transcendent. This is not a philosophy or a
religion or a new kind of psychology. Karlfried Graf Durckheim
teaches us genuine, all consuming transformation, encompassing
each moment of our lives. He uncovers the essence of religion
as an encounter with the Holy and brings together the summits
of Eastern and Western thought. The reader will find gathered
in this book striking insights into Durckheim's wisdom from some
of his closest students, people who are making their own mark
on the spiritual evolution of humankind.
a detailed biography to the tracing of the radical implications
of the master's teaching, this work offers the keys to understanding
not only Durckheim the man, but also the heart of sacred Scriptures,
the application of Eastern practices, and the nature and purpose
Alphonse and Rachel Goettmann
have only one Master: "Jesus-Christ, the eternal Master" as Durckheim
himself called him. It is written that "in many and various ways
God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these
last days he has spoken to us by a Son," (Hebrews 1:1) and He
still sends us messengers to open the way to Him. Graf Durckheim
is one of these messengers. It matters little what we call them,
for they are only the multiple faces of the One who is out of
time. It is said of the disciple that when he is ready, the master
arrives; that can be said of time as well: when it is dark and
imprisoned in the horizontal dimension, then one day it cries
toward the Transcendent. That day has arrived.
last world war has slowly engendered it. Anguished by death and
meaninglessness, humanity has risen out of it and has thrown itself
by an instinct for survival into possessing, knowledge, power,
overproduction. Such a person with the full stomach and the empty
heart lacks nothing except happiness. This new market has been
filled by sorcerers of well-being who have done great business.
Already dreadfully sick, man is further lost in their illusory
forms of "liberation." But these frail mirages will eventually
disappear, leaving us with an even greater yearning. Just like
the sysmic quivers of the planet, these cries from the depths
of our being reveal layers which have been completely ignored.
But these sediments of the human being, buried beneath the weight
of cultures and civilizations, covered over by the artifice of
centuries, are now entering into the light of our consciousness.
The great convulsions of our times come from within us.
voice cries from the core of our being. It is the call of the
master. And this call announces new beginnings. But a change of
humanity and of its consciousness always takes place in relation
to its ancestral traditions. Only in returning to our first genesis
can we find a way out of our current impasses, culling from our
ancient treasures "that which eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man conceived, which God has prepared for those
who love him." (John 5:17) But for this humanity "in the making"
God has need of wisewomen and wisemen who assist us in being born
into the "secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before
the ages for our glorification" (1 Co 2:8). The person and work
of Graf Durckheim are an answer to this call. Durckheim has contributed
to this awakening as few others have in our time. He has done
this on two levels: in the secret face to face encounter of the
master and the disciple and in the general calling into question
of the established system; these two are one and the same.
came near to him was struck by the fact that Durckheim did not
close himself off into a role: he was himself, he was what he
said and wrote. You felt in his presence a fullness, an intensity
of attention which made you feel truly alive for the first time.
Everything was centered in this relationship in which he became
your confident, a companion on the way or your therapist. In this
encounter, there was always a density of energy which gave way
to the numinous and the inexpressible recognition of the One whom
he called "the Great Third One." The silences between master and
disciple would then become longer and sometimes Durckheim invited
you to simply join him in meditation. Everyone felt unique around
him. His blind eyes could pierce into the depths of your soul,
as though scrutinizing the roots of your motives; or as though
seeking to generate your ultimate decision without which there
is no accomplishment. But in every case his gaze was filled with
a love which was neither oppressive nor demanding. It seized your
inner source, there where we can feel ourselves being reborn;
the dialogue took place in your essence, as though all the walls
had vanished. Someone else resonated within you, the very mystery
of your being.
Durckheim rose at the end of the interview and placed a hand vibrant
with tenderness on your shoulder or put his hands on your head
to bless you, a new joy and peace would invade your entire being.
This revelation to oneself and to one's deep reality placed all
one's behavior in a new light. You could be an expert in art,
consider yourself advanced on the path or possess important knowledge.
Yet at the first contact with Durckheim all of that crumbled,
as though he had pulled the rug out from under you. The consciousness
that you knew nothing was overwhelming! He who has passed through
that experience knows what a treasure it is. This is how we recognize
an authentic master and this is perhaps the greatest service he
can render to the disciple at the beginning. The total loss of
security, the surrendering of all foundations provokes a first
awakening: the abyss opened within you creates an incredible feeling
of freedom, then plunges you into another state of consciousness.
You rub your eyes from a long sleep and all of your past studies
will now reorganize themselves completely, transfigured by this
transforming shock. You will then better understand the unconditional
requirement of Jesus to his disciples: "Go, sell all you have,
and follow me" (Ga 5:22).
can take nothing with us into the beyond. There can only be a
mutation of being. Freed from all conditioning, these creative
forces will now be able to go to work. The enormous risk of acquired
knowledge is always found in easy satisfaction, imprisonment in
one's possessions, or falling asleep on one's laurels! Here the
Path is work. Those who approached Durckheim for recepies or techniques
left with a new way of living. But to live is to work for "to
work is to live without dying" said Rilke in agreement with all
spiritual traditions. This is of course work on oneself, progress
on the Path, and there is nothing for which one should ever stop
even for a moment. The human spirit is absolute like the Spirit
of God, and as such it has no rest: its field of action is the
twenty-four hours of the day. Here is where the sorting occurs:
there is the one who indefinitely hesitates on the "path toward
the Path," doing exercises here and there in hopes of attaining
wisdom one day without too much fatigue or believing that he has
already achieved it. And then there is the one who is on the Path
by virtue of an irrevocable decision, giving to his being a unique
and definitive orientation which makes of every moment the best
opportunity for moving forward.
finds in everything he does a way to advance internally. This
person no longer does exercises, he has himself become exercise.
His heart is pure, that is, outside of the multiple. But he pays
the price with his blood: "Give your blood and receive the Spirit"
states one of those powerful sayings of the Desert Fathers. To
be "on the Path" is then synonymous with being a disciple. Durckheim
was uncommonly intransigent on this point, though with that indescribable
love which so characterized him. But once the disciple had reached
the best part of himself, the master gave him his freedom. The
requirement was fundamental: either the exercise became constant
or there was, according to Durckheim, little to hope for. Amateurism
leads nowhere and, as with every master, Durckheim did not waste
his time with lazy souls. On the other hand, he who accepted the
rigors of a discipline could submit himself completely to him.
It is this unconditional obedience (from the latin "ob-audire",
to listen) which is the true name of the love of the disciple
for the master. Obedience is the core of all spiritual life, it
alone can overcome the craftiness of our ego.
exercises, always taken up again, cease to be painful and boring,
for they become the very presence of the spirit of the master,
to which one submits oneself in love. In other words, exercises
are a relationship and that is precisely where all that we had
acquired before the encounter with the master now enters into
a new light. We can now practice the same exercises in a radically
new way. This powerful presence of his person in every moment
was meant to lead to a new stage, the most important one: the
discovery of the inner Master. This is the purpose of true initiation.
Instead of becoming attached to the master in an infantile dependency,
Durckheim knew how to open the path toward the courage to be oneself
and to listen to one's most secret core, there where the "still,
small voice" can be heard calling us toward a completely personal
development. Durckheim used no power over others, and his exceptional
authority came entirely from his radiance. The master here gave
way to the witness of a Reality which utterly surpassed him and
which flooded his whole being.
"Reality" could reveal itself, depending on the student, as Buddha,
Allah, Krishna, or a cosmic Force. Durckheim loved you as you
were and had such respect for the individual journey that he brought
you to discover new depths in your own tradition. This love which
was sufficient to itself and utterly free of proselytizing, was
the greatest joy of the disicple. The greatest joy for Durckheim
came when he felt in the disciple the same faith as his own, when
he could bring the disciple into the depths of his own mystery
whose radiance he named Jesus Christ. He could then share something
of his personal substance and bring forth the secret of his life.
For Durckheim, transformation is possible only at the core of
our being. The radical modification of humanity and the future
of the world depend on the spiritual experience. Human beings
are sick in their very being. Wars and revolutions do not bring
about fundamental changes. Durckheim "laid the axe to the root"
(Luke 3:9) by choosing to deal with the genesis of human beings.
We are at a turning point in history.
in the Middle Ages, we must once again break through the fog of
our degeneration. There will only be a new beginning through a
return to the origin and essence of humanity, where a true rebirth
can take place. In order to survive, humanity needs a spiritual
revolution. It was the becoming of humanity which Durckheim dealt
with and he therefore questioned all the institutions which pretend
to care for it: the army, school, family, medicine, church and
the kind of civilization they sustain. He presented a new way
of living and being. All these institutions have much to learn
from him, but it is especially the Church, which is meant to be
an instrument for the fulfillment of humanity, which must hear
his message. Durckheim is therefore infinitely more than a master
who has come and gone. His voice remains that of a prophet among
us, one of the pioneers of a return to the origins of Christianity.
When he shows us how the East can reveal to the West its forgotten
roots, this applies particularly to the Church whose roots are
properly eastern. Meister Eckhart, Durckheim's great teacher,
impregnated by the ancient Tradition, was a powerful revelation
for him. His mysticism was a reaction to an invading rational
theology which has never left us.
communion with this master whose writings he never ceased to study,
Durckheim broke through to the essence of the faith of the Fathers
of earliest times: all his underlying metaphysical insight is
trinitarian and he often said that nothing lives outside of the
Trinity. This provides a fundamental vision of a human being who
is both citizen of earth and of heaven. These two givens guide
human destiny which is a path of transformation where the human
being becomes God. Only this becoming justifies the presence of
humanity on earth and every institution, especially the Church,
which does not respond to the call inscribed in the heart of each
being, betrays its mission. Durckheim believed that a God who
becomes flesh and blood must be experienced! And every method:
the Bible, the sacraments, our own body are first and foremost
invitations to this foundational experience. The Church itself
is nothing other than a place for rebirth. It is in this perspective
that some disciples and friends of Durckheim join together in
this book to express, each in his or her own way, how Durckheim
made possible for them a new approach to Christianity. The purpose
is not to praise a great master but to open the doors for which
he gave us the keys and discover the new country which lies beyond